After visiting famous “Audio Experience Stores”

Park Jeonghun

There are many retailers who sell earphones in their stores. Some sell them online, others sell them offline. As a rationally behaving consumer, it is always wise to buy good quality products at the lowest price. Buying at a low price is always desirable only in one condition; “You should buy genuine earphones from a reputable manufacturer, not a fake one.  There are some stores where you can visit to buy quality earphones or audio gear such as, headphones, digital to analog converters.

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The first is “Earphoneshop”, which is in Daehak-ro near Sungkyunkwan University. You can visit this place by taking subway line number 4 and getting off at Hyewha station. The location is not close to the station, so you need to use your smartphone map such as Google Maps to find it.

This shop has most diverse collection of earphones. Their product ranges from cheap and affordable collections to high-end studio monitoring headphones. According to their site, they have about 480 products which you can listen at the store. Moreover, they only deal with the official wholesaler, which alleviates the risk of buying a fake product. However, there are downsides as well. Because some earphones are expensive, they are tied to desks to prevent robbery. You can listen to them, but you must stand in front of the desk with your phone or your portable media player. At first, I was very enthusiastic about listening to many earphones in the store. As time goes by, I felt very uncomfortable listening while standing still, fixed to an earphone stand. Furthermore, because they have many listenable products, the sample’s quality is not very good. Some are almost new however, some are old and dirty because many people handled them. Earphones or headphones are devices that you physically insert or attach to your ear. If it is worn out or dirty, you may become reluctant to try them on.

The next place where you can listen to earphones and buy them is “Scheherazade”. It is in Apgujeong Rodeo station and it is my personal favorite. To get there from school, it is simple. When you reach Wansimni station transfer to the Bundang line, get off at Apgujeong Rodeo station.  Go to exit number 4, get out of the station, go straight until you see a store selling TAG Heuer watches. Turn left and you can’t miss it.

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Figure 2: Scheherazade from street view

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Figure 3: The interior (Scheherazade, 2018)

The store focuses on high-end products than cheap alternatives. They do sell cheap earphones, but it is not their main merchandise. So, if you are looking for cheap (under 50,000 won), this might not be the place for you. Unlike the previous store I discussed, their earphones are not tied to desks. You can freely take them off the shelf and listen to them inside the store. There are dedicated seats and tables where you can bring multiple earphones and compare them side by side. They even have a small refrigerator for free drinks while you are listening. Due to space limitations, they do not carry as much as the store in Hyewha. However, they do care about their sample earphones. Every time I went there, the samples were very clean, and the staff told my friend that they do take care of it by replacing old units to new ones. Unlike some stores, where staff gives you “pressure” to buy their products, you do not need to worry about it. The staff only helps you if you need assistance. They let you listen to almost every product and do not care if you buy something or not. Moreover, they have some knowledge about their products, unlike shops in huge bookstores who have no idea about what they sell, they can recommend you some options.  Even though, they charge more than online retailers, their products come from certified wholesaler, which makes a huge difference in customer support, when you buy expensive goods.

In conclusion, choosing the right store to buy or try audio gear is a trade off between quantity and quality.  If you are willing to find the way through busy streets of Hyewha, and look for many alternatives as you can, visit the Earphoneshop. On the other hand, if you value quality of the samples and the listening experience, visit Scheherazade in Apgujeong Rodeo. For more information visit http://www.schezade.co.kr/index.html and http://www.earphoneshop.co.kr/ (links are in Korean only).

References

Earphoneshop. (2018, 3 23). Offline store. Retrieved from earphoneshop: http://www.earphoneshop.co.kr/

Scheherazade. (2018, 3 23). Gallery. Retrieved from Scheherazade: http://www.schezade.co.kr/board/gallery/board.html?s_key=&s_field=&page=3

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